RFID Leads the Way

E-mail Ray Peacock

As industrial solutions providers leave the summer doldrums, wireless holds a high place in the hierarchy of technological development, and RFID leads the pack with renewed vigor.

Greater Miniaturization, Enhanced Capabilities
This past month, HP kicked off all kinds of speculation with its announced miniature wireless data chip, which can provide broad access to digital content in the physical world. It leaps past previous RFID-device capabilities with an astounding increase in, and combination of, size, memory, capacity, and data access speed.

The experimental chip, developed by the Memory Spot research team at HP Labs, is a memory device based on CMOS (a widely used, low-power integrated circuit design), about the size of a grain of rice or smaller (2 mm to 4 mm square), with a built-in antenna. The chips could be embedded in a sheet of paper or stuck to any surface, and could eventually be available in a booklet of self-adhesive dots.

Human-Implantable Tags
This came on the heels of an announcement that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has initiated a two-year clinical study to test the use of human-implantable RFID tags. The trial will use the tags, readers, and database that make up VeriChip's VeriMed system.

VeriMed is designed to ensure that healthcare workers have access to vital data, such as preexisting conditions or drug allergies, even if patients are unable to relay such information themselves.

Tiny Readers
Meanwhile, SkyeTek Inc., a provider of RFID reader technology, introduced the M9 SkyeModule UHF RFID reader ($199 per module). The M9 is reported to be the world's smallest, least expensive EPC Class 1 Gen 1/2 and ISO 18000-6B/C OEM reader that meets regulatory requirements for the world's major markets, including North America, Europe (ETSI 302 208), Korea, and Japan. Approximately half the size of a business card, the M9 was designed for embedded UHF applications, such as item-level inventory management, handheld reading/encoding, and printing.

Tip of the Iceberg
Hundreds of professionals are expected to converge in Vienna, VA, (just outside Washington, DC) on September 6–7 to learn from and meet with the top experts involved in organizations incorporating UWB, ZigBee, DSRC, RFID, WiFi, IR, and Bluetooth technologies in their products at the 2006 Antenna Systems/Short-Range Wireless Conference.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. About eight separate RFID Conferences and Expos are planned between now and year's end, according to the Meetings Calendar at RFID Journal online.

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